Staff Favorites - Gary Westby

Gary Westby
Gary Westby  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
I started at K&L in February of 2000, after 4 years of working down the street for another retailer, and although I take care of the Champagne buying here at K&L, I love to drink wine from all over the world. I prize authenticity in wine, and love representative examples of many different styles, whether it is a spicy dry creek zinfandel or a mineral driven Manzanilla. I almost always drink my wine with food, and am drawn to food wines rather than the softer styles that are good for drinking on their own. My wife Cinnamon and I cook a lot of Italian & French food at home, and my list of wines reflects those food choices. I also love value, at every price point, and can't stand "prestige" labels that under deliver in the bottle. I love honest wines for the table. If you love good wine to go with your good cooking too, I think that by joining my personal Sommelier list you will be treated to a wide variety of wines that represent a strong value for money at what ever price range you feel comfortable with. Give it a try!


Reviews

  
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2012 Domaine Jessiaume Volnay 1er Cru "Brouillards"
Review Date: 04-24-2015
The 2012 Domaine Jessiaume Volnay 1er Cru "Brouillards" was the first wine that I have ever had from this cru in the middle of the commune. Jessiaume owns just over half an acre in this vineyard situated between the premier crus of Mitans and Combes Dessus. It is vilified in 30% new oak for one year and then five months of settling in stainless steel before bottling. This wine had the magic of the commune, with wild berry fruit, some cracked pepper and new leather elements on the nose. The wild fruit gives way to sophisticated, light bodied purity in the mouth, and the finish is near Champagne like in its laser like focus and outstanding purity.
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $59.95 Add To Waiting List

2011 Hospices de Beaune Volnay "Cuvée Blondeau (Corcia)"
Review Date: 04-24-2015
While very young for drinking now, the 2011 Hospices de Beaune Volnay "Cuvée Blondeau" showed me why these charity bottlings are so famous. The Blondeau is composed of 4.5 acres of vines spread across four different 1er crus: Champans, Tailpieds, En L’Ormeau and Roncerets. It started off the evening closed, but with air showed incredible smoky density, firm structure and incredible cut on the long finish. This will evolve into a great “blood making” Cote de Beaune in time, and I have made room in my cellar for some!
Drink from 2017 to 2017
Price: $59.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Domaine Cyrot-Buthiau Volnay
Review Date: 04-24-2015
This wine sees about 15 months in 40% new wood, and shows the more supple, textural, sexier side of Volnay. It is a medium to full bodied wine with quite rich black cherry fruit that is kissed with a little mocha. This generous wine has the clean acidity for the Burgundy graduate, but is open and showy enough to drink now with folks who have yet to join the Burgundy cult.
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $39.95 Add To Waiting List

2013 Domaine Gerard Tremblay Chablis Grand Cru "Vaudesir"
Review Date: 04-24-2015
This open knit grand cru is showing very well young, with big Meyer lemon fruit backed up by clean kimmeridgian earth. Paired with Dungeness crab, it was nearly impossible to stop drinking it, although I promised to save some for the rest of the staff the next day! This wine is concentrated and is full of the stuffing that will make it last for the long haul. The challenge will be leaving it alone!
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $43.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Domaine Gerard Tremblay Chablis 1er Cru "Fourchaumes Vieilles Vignes"
Review Date: 04-24-2015
The powerhouse wine of the Tremblay line! This wine comes from a plot of vines planted back in 1951 and has the intensity and scale one would expect from old vines in a top premier cru site. While this wine is fantastic now for the price on the merits of its big, pure white fruit and virile acidity, the best is yet to come from it. A bottle of the 2008 that I tasted this month blew my mind, and with a few years this 2013 will integrate into something good enough to be on the table with any white Burgundy.
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $27.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Domaine Gerard Tremblay Chablis 1er Cru "Cote de Lechet"
Review Date: 04-24-2015
This is Tremblay’s largest premier cru holding with vines ranging from 35-40 years of age. For me, this is the most textbook of all the Chablis that we have in stock, the kind that I would love to meet in a blind tasting! The fabulous pure earth flavors, creamy texture and electric acidity had me coming back for more. It was spectacular with Dungeness crab. This drinks great right now, but so do the 10-year-old bottles in my cellar!
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $23.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Domaine Gerard Tremblay Chablis "Vieilles Vignes"
Review Date: 04-24-2015
With no vines under 40 years and most planted in 1957, this is truly an old vine cuvee. The exotic white fruit of the 2013 vintage is here, but the wine is balanced by a shock of acidity and great clean earth flavors. This is perfect for drinking now either on its own or with shellfish, but will keep well for another five years.
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List

2006 Drappier "Grande Sendrée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 04-23-2015
This was the star of the show at the Ordere Coteaux Champenois dinner at the Ritz! This is one of the most special single vineyard Champagnes that I have ever had, and shows the blending is not the only way to achieve balance... Sometimes it is just all there in the site, waiting to be coaxed out with great vineyard management and careful winemaking! This wine has both incredible nutella on brioche richness and scintillating chalky minerality. It also has a peacocks tail finish that goes on so long that I feel like I am still tasting it today... 12 hours later! If you want to treat yourself to one of the best bottles in the whole Champagne region, you have found a great example! This single vineyard Champagne comes from a plot called the Sendree, which was the site of a terrible fire in 1838. Sendree is a mispelling of the French word for cinders which ended up immortalized in the land registers of the village of Urville. It is composed of about half each Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and sees 1/3 fermentation in large wood barrels. The site is slightly cooler than most of the Drappier estate in Urville, making this a great wine for ageing even in a ripe vintage like 2006.
Drink from 2015 to 2015

2012 Pierre Gelin Fixin 1er Cru "Clos Napoléon"
Review Date: 04-22-2015
This site was considered one of the top flight premier crus in Burgundy 150 years ago, and with Domaine Pierre Gelin's excellent work in the vineyard, it is rocketing back to prominence. While it might seem expensive for Fixin, it is a great deal for the wine inside. In another 5 years, we'll be talking about the good old days when the Napoleon was affordable--mark my words! This is broad shouldered, powerful, tannic Burgundy that is fit for an emperor, but best for the cellar. Although the 2012 vintage has given it the fat to make it approachable now with food and a long airing in the decanter, this fantastically long and complex 1er cru will be much better in a few years.
Price: $59.99 Add To Waiting List
Limit of 6 per customer

2012 Domaine Pierre Matrot Meursault
Review Date: 04-22-2015
If you feel like having a taste of the real thing, the Matrot Meursault delivers. This has the richness and the electricity that inspired wine makers around the world to make Chardonnay. If found it to have a nice dollop of Plugra, some subtle pineapple fruit framed by a touch of vanilla and best of all a long, mineral laden finish.
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $49.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Domaine Pierre Gelin Fixin
Review Date: 04-22-2015
If you like your Pinot Noir full of earthy, savory structure, but like them even better when they have texture and complexity to go with it, this Domaine Pierre Gelin Fixin is for you. The 2012 vintage has given us the "gras" to fill out the excellent bones of this fantastic Pinot Noir. This wine will make an excellent partner to leg of lamb.
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Chalone "Estate Grown" Chalone Pinot Noir
Review Date: 04-21-2015
Dark, powerful and dry, this Pinot Noir is perfect for lamb now, or for the cellar. I love the brooding power of these special wines from Chalone- if you don't think they will keep, check out the 1977, 1978, and 1979- they have barely aged at all!
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Von Strasser "Rudy" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 04-17-2015
A perennial favorite at K&L, the 2013 from Rudy Von Strasser has the dark currant flavors and mountain Cab structure that will make even the high-end Cab drinker smile. This wine is a value on the world stage- it is a rare thing to find this kind of complexity and power in a wine under $20. To find it in Cabernet in Napa is unbelievable!
Top Value!
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List

2014 Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 04-17-2015
This racy crisp white runs more to the Sauvignon side than the Semillon, and makes a great refreshing wine for drinking on its own or with lighter fare. I love the subtle bass notes that the Semillon brings to this bright, grapefruit and lemon zest Sauvignon!
Top Value!
Price: $14.99 Add To Waiting List
JH 94

Krug Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 04-14-2015
This blend of great vintages is perhaps the most consistently great pink wine in the world. Effortless, subtle and elegant, this is not a bottle of wine that is ever flashy or showy. Every time I have had it seems to just vanish without refilling the flutes. The refined strawberry notes and haunting Pinot Noir fruit always seem to take a back seat to the company and the conversation when I have drunk it, but the memory of each experience is as vivid as yesterday. Every lover of the good things in life should try this masterpiece at least once. It is the ultimate rosé!

2000 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 04-13-2015
Last night I took this bottle down to Quattro restaurant for a date night with Cinnamon. Like a broken record, I ordered the 16-oz, bone in, Piemontese ribeye, which never fails to deliver. It was Friday night, and I love my steak and claret!!! The Barton, which had been sitting in the decanter for about an hour before we drank it, was beautifully open and aromatic, with fantastic leather and earthy components on its Cabernet driven, currant loaded nose. In the mouth it was as rich and full as one would expect from a big deal wine from a big deal vintage, with more dark fruit and high class earth. The finish was long, lifted and fresh… The 750ml bottle seemed small, even though it was just the two of us. It is, after all, just a short walk home!
Drink from 2015 to 2015

Chateau de Bligny Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 04-07-2015
Pure Chardonnay bottlings from the Aube are quite rare. Champagne has a very continental climate, and this is even more pronounced in the Aube making growing the early budding Chardonnay quite difficult. The problem isn’t quality, the limestone and Kimmeridgian soil here give this variety excellent minerality and a ton of character. The problem is survival: late spring frost routinely destroys the harvest in this sub-region as Chardonnay is the first of the region's grape varieties to bud out. Luckily, Bligny has enough to make this excellent blanc de blancs, which has grand cru Chablis scale and very clean earth on the back end. A star wine that I can’t wait to pair with Dungeness crab!
Price: $49.99 Add To Waiting List

Chateau de Bligny Grand Reserve Rose Brut Champagne
Review Date: 04-07-2015
This all estate-grown rose is composed of 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir that is vinified white and 15% Pinot Noir vinified as red wine or Coteaux Champenois rouge. I love the rose from the Aube department, and if you have been a fan of bottlings from Fleury, Fluteau and the like, you should definitely try this out. This balances wild Pinot Noir red fruit with dry precision and manages to have plenty of personality without losing easy-drinking charm.
Price: $49.99 Add To Waiting List

Chateau de Bligny Cuvee Six Cepages Brut Champagne
Review Date: 04-07-2015
What a wower of a bottle. There are not many Champagnes made from individual walled vineyards, but they are justifiably famous in spite of their tiny production. Wines like Krug’s Clos du Mesnil and Clos Ambonnay are fantastically expensive, while Philipponnat Clos des Goisses is near impossible to get. This brassy powerhouse comes from two acres planted to 1/6 each Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Meunier, Arbanne, Petite Meslier and Pinot Blanc. The result is a vinous, gold-straw-colored show-stopper that crackles with citric acidity on its very long, strong finish. This is a must for every serious fan of Champagne to try--it is expensive, but the price can only go up…
Price: $99.99 Add To Waiting List
WS 90

Chateau de Bligny Grand Reserve Brut Champagne
Review Date: 04-07-2015
This is composed of half each Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and fermented in stainless steel at the Chateau. It is very clean, but not at all austere; in fact it is quite broad and rich… A real signature Aube characteristic! It has great texture and body focused with very nice Burgundian style minerality. This will make a great aperitif, but also go well with charcuterie or even a cheese course.
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List

1989 Clos du Marquis, St-Julien
Review Date: 04-01-2015
This 1989 is still very dark and young, and I am glad that we gave it an hour and a half to air in the decanter. The nose shows off the purity and power of Cabernet Sauvignon from this hallowed area with some of the best dark cassis aromas that I have smelled. In the mouth, the wine is medium bodied, with great texture that has the potential to get even better with more time. The tannins are firm and the acidity fresh- I was very happy to have thick slices of marbled, prime New York steak to act as a foil to this big wine. Our bottle was also layered and complex with a nod to Pauillac showing through in pencil lead hints. Best of all it was super easy to drink despite its size and complexity; a virtue that only wines of great breed have.
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $79.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir
Review Date: 03-20-2015
This Pinot is full of cool, brooding black cherry fruit and framed by high quality savory flavors. It is great to see a wine of such depth and character at this price in the current Pinot Noir market. Calera has delivered richness, power and length for a fair price with this excellent wine.
Price: $26.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 92

2011 Ravenswood "Big River" Alexander Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 03-20-2015
If you like Zinfandel, you have to take advantage of this incredible deal. The single vineyard selections from Ravenswood are blue chip California soul wines, and all the more interesting in a cool vintage like 2011. This big, serious, manly wine has all of the brambly blackberry fruit and tannic structure that one could wish for in a Zin. It is also free of any jammy, overripe flavors or aromas. This bottle is crying out for a smoky pork shoulder tonight with a few hours of decanting, but should develop for a good number of years in your cellar as well!
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List
ST 90

2013 Calera Central Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 03-20-2015
It is hard to believe how much wine the folks from Calera have delivered here for under $20. This robust Chardonnay is kissed with oak, but not dominated by it. It is rich and full bodied, but not flabby or heavy. The most impressive feature of this wine is the long finish- dry, mineral and serious!
Top Value!
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 92 AG 90

2013 Mercer Canyons Columbia Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 03-20-2015
This light, clean, soft and easy Chardonnay is a real crowd pleaser. The folks at Mercer Canyons have delivered a real value with this- it has enough flavor for Chard fans to hang onto, but is dry enough not to weigh a drinker down.
Price: $11.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 91

2012 Nalle Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 03-18-2015
This is the kind of wine that I want to bring to France to share with my winemaker friends there... Real California soul wine! Yes, it is sunny in California and yes, our wines should be rich and fruity. But that doesn't mean that our wines have to be heavy or hot! This nuanced, balanced Dry Creek Zin has great poise and elegance without loosing its wild berry fruit. Tasting Zin this good made me proud to be a Californian!
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $37.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Nalle "Vinum Clarum" Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 03-18-2015
I thought that Zinfandel in this style had gone extinct. Luckily our California team is out looking for great stuff all the time, and their recent trip to Dry Creek reacquainted them with a classic; Nalle. This is perfect barbecue wine, with lots of wild, brambly fruit, low tannin, good acid and excellent poise and balance. The long finish on this wine surprised me- it has California soul!
Price: $26.99 Add To Waiting List

2007 Joseph Swan "Trenton Estate" Russian River Valley Syrah
Review Date: 03-18-2015
I love it when Bryan Brick finds wines like this- aged to perfection, and priced to drink! This suave Syrah from Swan has a steak au poivre and blueberry nose and a supple texture from time-resolved tannin. If you are looking for a complex, multi-layered Syrah, look no further!
Price: $25.99 Add To Waiting List
ST 90 WE 90

2012 Joseph Swan "Trenton Estate" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 03-18-2015
The Trenton Estate is always top notch, but often a backward wine that needs a lot of time to show its stuff. The precocious 2012 is an exception and shows very well not, and should have the legs to age for as long as you want to cellar it. This is one of the very best California Pinot's that we have at any price, made in the old school way, with plenty of savory, brambly intrigue to go with its solid California fruit. The finish is almost endless. This is a must try for any Califoria Pinot lover.
Drink from 2015 to 2015
Price: $59.99 Add To Waiting List
ST 92

2014 Banshee Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir
Review Date: 03-18-2015
This was a knockout, and perhaps my favorite wine from our domestic staff tasting this past Tuesday. I don't like many domestic rose's as they are usually to heavy and way to expensive compared to their French counterparts. Not this Banshee Sonoma County Rose Of Pinot Noir! This has the high toned fruit and mineral drive of a great Sancerre Rose, but with more mid-palate presence. This is top notch stuff!
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List
AG 90

2004 Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-17-2015
I have been telling everyone who will listen that the 2004 vintage in Champagne is one not to miss. The region used to get "classic" vintages like this twice a decade, seasons that offered even weather, cool conditions and produced wines that are streamlined, bright and mineral. Not anymore... A vintage like 2004 has not come along since 1988, and there have been none since. This LP has all of the virtues of the vintage; spectacular length, elegance and lift, as well as the toasty richness that one expects from a long-aged vintage bottle from a great house. Don't miss this!
Top Value!
Price: $49.99 Add To Waiting List
ST 92 WS 90

1999 Billecart-Salmon "Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-09-2015
This Champagne is composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay and is 1/3 barrel fermented. It is aged for three years on the lees and is dosed at a tiny 3g/l of sugar. It has a pretty white gold color and an incredible bouquet of cream, high quality toast and even some Nutella. It is rich Champagne with plenty of texture, but the very low dosage snaps it right into focus. It has all the complexity one could ask for in a Champagne.

Drappier Charles de Gaulle Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-06-2015
The Charles de Gaulle might be the best deal in top notch grand marque Champagne at K&L. It is composed of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay and is one of the most leesy, layered powerhouses in the building. If you like wines like the Bollinger vintage and the Pol Roger Winston Churchill, you should definitely try this Champagne. I found it to be very complex, with hazelnut, fine toast and Kimmeridgian minerality all in great balance. The texture and bead are as good as it gets. This is the first batch of this wine that is non-vintage, the last vintage dated Charles de Gaulle was the 2006. I am guessing that this is based on 2007 with reserves, but I don’t know for sure.
Price: $69.99 Add To Waiting List
AG 91 WS 91

Lamoureux Rosé des Riceys
Review Date: 03-06-2015
This still, 100% Pinot Noir rose is made in tiny quantities in the town of Riceys in the heart of the Aube department. This manages to have both the bright, tannin free high tones of cool climate rose and the fuller, darker cherry fruit of a near-red Pinot Noir. This is an absolute must try for any complete imbiber of the wines of the Champagne region. To quote a great customer, it is a “Unicorn Wine”.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

Drappier Rose Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-06-2015
This all Pinot Noir Champagne is made with a three day long maceration, rather than more common method of adding red wine for color and flavor. It is vinified in only stainless steel vats and moved by gravity to avoid oxygen and preserve freshness, and dosed at a fairly low 7g/l. This Champagne has a wild nose with plenty of black cherry Pinot authority and savor. In the mouth it is spicy, extroverted and fresh.
Price: $54.99 Add To Waiting List
WS 92 RP 91

Drappier Carte d'Or Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-06-2015
This Champagne is composed of 75% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay and 10% Meunier with about 5% barrel aged reserve wines in the blend. The fruit comes almost exclusively from the Aube department. I found the wine to have an explosive nose, with clean aromas of baguette and nectarine. This is an extraordinary negociant bottling, on the level of Louis Roederer or Bollinger in quality, but with a style all its own. In the mouth the Carte d’Or has red maraschino cherry from the generous use of Pinot, and an almost Chablis like minerality on the finish. It balances richness, detail and freshness perfectly. Don’t miss trying this one.
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List
WS 91

2012 Meli Carignane Maule Valley
Review Date: 03-04-2015
Our Chilean wine buyer Joe smashed so many of my prejudices yesterday that I woke up confused this morning. His biggest triumph over my closed mindedness was this triumphant selection... A Carignane that is a contender for the best red wine in the store at under $15. This is a perfect BBQ wine, spicy, smoky, black fruited. Think of it like Zin, but with more structure and less heat and find some brisket to have with it!
Top Value!
Price: $12.99 Add To Waiting List
W&S 92 JS 90

2014 Pipeño Pais "Coronel de Maule" Maule Valley (1.0L)
Review Date: 03-04-2015
After 20+ years in the wine business it is great to find a bottle that is singing a song that I have never heard before... And enjoying it! This old vine Mission wine has the dark, granite infused fruit of a Morgon, the acid and tannic spine of a Roero Nebbiolo and a fun personality that is completely unique. Where are the beef empanadas? I am ready to do some liter drinking!
Price: $15.99 Add To Waiting List

2011 Familia Zuccardi "Q" Cabernet Sauvignon Gualtallary and La Consulta Valle de Uco
Review Date: 03-04-2015
Our South American buyer Joe blew the staff away yesterday with his stereotype breaking selections! This wonderful Cabernet from Familia Zuccardi is full bodied, but has the magic lift that one rarely finds outside of the Medoc in Bordeaux. It is a powerful, dry wine with excellent cassis flavors and best of all a long, bright, mineral driven finish. The only thing missing is a big Gaucho steak!
Top Value!
Price: $16.99 Add To Waiting List
WS 90

2012 Bodegas Sur de los Andes Malbec Reserva Mendoza
Review Date: 03-04-2015
I love wines that prove my prejudices wrong. This generous, spicy, dark fruit style Malbec is soft and easy to drink, but still has enough spine and structure to encourage me to come back for more. At this price, it is an absolute steal... Real wine for a song!
Top Value!
Price: $9.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 90

2002 Pol Roger "Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-03-2015
A lot of tete-de-cuvee Champagne is little more than fancy packaging. The Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill from Pol Roger is the opposite; all substance for Champagne lovers in the know!

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 03-03-2015
This is the benchmark in rose Champagne, and it deserves every bit of its fame. I find it elegant and balanced every time that I have it, and the blushing pink color is always perfect. If you are looking for a famous producer that delivers the goods, the Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Champagne is a great choice. I like the wine best as an aperitif, the only thing it need to pair with is a good glass.

Michel Loriot "Theodorine" Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 03-03-2015
I love drinking Champagne on Tuesdays! I had prepared a merguez tagine with plenty of pimenton ahumado and large pearl cous-cous for dinner, and started to scratch my head over what to pair with it. It was going to be too spicy for anything tannic, yet the lamb in the sausage called out for some red wine flavors... Rose! Rose was the answer. But it is the middle of winter, and all of the still rose is sold! Rose Champagne! Rose Champagne is the answer! The Michel Loriot Rose was perfect, with lots of red wine richness from the 20% Pinot in the blend, but also great snap from the Loriot policy of no malolactic. The very ripe strawberry fruit in this wine was brought into perfect balance by the powerful finish. Try it out the next time you whip up something spicy!
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List

2002 Piper-Heidsieck "Cuvée Rare" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-03-2015
The wonderfully rich Cuvee Rare from Piper Heidsieck reminds me of the great tete de cuvee's of years gone past. Like those, it is made in tiny quantities and only in the very best years- only 8 vintages have been made in 36 years! We drank this wine at a staff sushi and Champagne party at my house, and loved it with the eel especially, but I think the ultimate pairing for this wine would be a nice sunset. It doesn't need anything! I love the warm toastiness of this wine and its fine balance. The refreshing finish will have you coming back for more!
Drink to 0

Ariston Aspasie Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 03-03-2015
Nobody in Champagne works harder on making a great rose than Paul-Vincent Ariston, owner of Champagne Aspasie, and no bottle that we carry is as outstanding of a bargain. Most producers either make a red wine to blend into their white or do a maceration of all the skins for a short time to make rose. Paul does both, as he likes the complexity that the maceration method brings to the wine, and the control that the addition of red wine offers. This isn't just a good deal, it is a Champagne of spectacular depth and character, that is also super easy to drink.
Price: $34.99 Add To Waiting List

2004 Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-03-2015
When Champagne lovers ask me about what vintage they should think about collecting, I always bring up 2004 first. While many other vintages such as 2002, 2006 and 2007 have produced fabulous wines, they have all been crazy in one way or another. Because of climate change, the only two harvests that could be counted as typical, “classic” Champagne vintages in the last 25 years are 1988 and 2004. Of course, many vintages in the past 25 years have been great; 1989, 1990, 1996, 2002 and almost certainly 2008 and 2012. All of these vintages have a story, and all of them are odd. Even vintages with plenty of water and slow ripening, which over the last 200 years would be considered typical and classic, are an endangered species. The character of the 2004’s is very transparent, revealing of terroir (especially in single vineyard wines), long and light on its feet. The wines do not have the weight and authority of the 2002’s or the crazy concentration of the 1996’s. What they have is deft, elegant balance and I believe that they will, like the 1988’s, prove to be great. The Dom is a great indicator and example of the strength of this vintage. I can’t remember liking a vintage of Dom when it was first released as much as this since the 1990, or finding one of such good potential since the 1996. I wanted to make the most out of this chance to drink the 2004 as a preview and decided to prepare a special dinner for Cinnamon and I. I picked up an ounce of Osetra and we started out enjoying the bottle with blini and creme fraiche. For the main course I cooked some local wild king salmon on an alder plank on the grill after giving it a light brine. I topped it with some fleur de sel, pepper and paddlefish roe. The 2004 is certainly the driest non-Oenotheque release I have ever tasted from DP and the white gold color has a real flash of green to it. On the nose, the signature Dom Perignon yeastiness is front and center framed by some delicate Chardonnay fruit. The Osetra blini brought out the nuttiness of the Pinot Noir very nicely on the palate. It was too bad that there was only one ounce! One of the things that I learned from the DP seminar that I wrote about in April was that the wine is always close to 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, and this 2004 certainly tasted that way. When we had the salmon, which was very rich, the Dom showed more of its cutting, mineral driven Chardonnay side. This elegant bottle of Champagne went down very easily, and showed the strength of Moet’s massive vineyard resources and incredible store of knowledge. These wines age very well, and the 2004 has the balance to go the distance. I was very impressed!
Drink to 0

Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-03-2015
I love extra brut Champagne, and Antoine Billecart has made a great example of the style with this bottling. He and I drank this along with his team at Quince in SF the last time he was here, and with four years on the lees, it came across as dry, but without a hint of austerity. Many big houses lack respect for Meunier, but not Billecart- this wine gets its charm from the clean fruit that this indigenous grape brings to the blend. It is composed of 40% Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir and the long, cool fermentation and generous lees time has given this wine the fruit and balance to please even a first time extra brut drinker.

Thienot Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-03-2015
I was lucky enough to be invited by Garance Thienot to the Plumed Horse in Saratoga for an incredible Champagne dinner. I hadn't been to this restaurant in more than a decade and the story about it being the biggest fine dining remodel in all of Silicon Valley must be true- it was amazing inside. We started the dinner off with this rich, full bodied, toasty Champagne that still had the snap to make a great aperitif. What a tasty wine!
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List

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$34.99
ST 90

Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 03-03-2015
The Ruinart Brut Blanc De Blancs is a wonderfully different style of Chardonnay based Champagne than any other that we have. While almost all of the others that we carry rely on the laser precision of Cote de Blanc fruit exclusively, this wine balances this electricity with the rich, nearly grapey Chardonnay of the Mountain of Reims. The result is magic; a full bodied blanc de blancs that still finishes dry and long!

Krug "Grande Cuvée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-03-2015
I was lucky enough to drink this with Krug's CEO, Margareth Henriquez. Margareth explained the new codes on the backs of the bottles, that allow the Champagne lover to learn the disgorgement date, year of the base harvest of the wine as well as the number of vintages blended in and the oldest of them. She was far too modest about this new feature, as it reverses the secretiveness for which Krug has long been known. Now, thanks to her influence, Krug is one of the most transparent houses. Our bottle was Krug at its toasty, extroverted best, with plenty of buttery brioche and mid-palate weight. It also had zing and acidity, and showed attractive aspects of both youth and maturity.

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